Student fee crackdown puts Kiwis' education at risk

New Zealanders in Australia may be forced to move home due to plans to make them pay pricey international student fees.

The move to abolish subsidised University costs has put tertiary education out of the reach of many Kiwis living across the ditch.

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee left for Australia on Wednesday and is promising to get a handle on what the future holds - but the Prime Minister believes New Zealanders will be thinking twice before moving to Australia.

New Zealander Kent Peters is proud of his kids. They're off to university, but there's a problem.

He lives with them in Perth and although the teenagers have spent more time in Australia than New Zealand, they face crippling debt if they want further education.

"He was looking at an annual fee of about $9000 dollars now based again on 2017 fees if he's treated as a full fee-paying foreign student that increases three-fold to $27,000 dollars," Mr Peters says.

Those fees are for Jayden, who wants to be an engineer. The four-year course would cost more than $100,000. His brother Ethan is interested in medicine and that'll cost even more.

"I think as a parent the most important thing you can do is to give our children the best start in life and if that meant we were return to NZ earlier than planned that'd be something we'd be prepared to do," Mr Peters says.

The fee hike is the latest in a string of Australian government crackdowns on expat Kiwis.

Prime Minister Bill English believes it makes Australia less appealing.

"There's no doubt there's more uncertainty but I think that probably has more impact on Kiwis here thinking about going and wanting to know whether there's safety net there or not," he says.

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is promising to find out whether further changes are on the way for Kiwi expats but says relations between the countries are not strained.

"Our relationship is deep and close and you'd liken it to a hillbilly wedding even if we had a divorce we'd still be cousins," Mr Brownlee says.

Distant cousins if the Peters family comes back home.